A guide to travel vaccinations

If you’re travelling outside the UK, you may need vaccinations to protect you against diseases that can be found in certain countries, as well as Covid-19 vaccinations.

If you’re travelling outside the UK, you may need vaccinations to protect you against diseases that can be found in certain countries, as well as Covid-19 vaccinations.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: please check the latest government travel advice that sets out what you need to do, if anything, before you travel abroad and before you return home. You should also check the latest travel advice and entry requirements for each country you visit or transit through. Travel rules can change at short notice, so check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) for the latest information.

Josh Daniels
Travel Insurance expert
6
minute read
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Posted 18 NOVEMBER 2019 Last Updated 3 FEBRUARY 2022

What vaccinations do I need?

The vaccinations you need will depend on where you’re travelling to, what vaccinations you’ve already had and what you’ll be doing – for example, if you’re volunteering in a rural area, you may be more at risk of contracting some diseases. It will also depend on the legal requirements for entry into that country. Most countries require travellers to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

You’ll also need a certificate to show you’ve been vaccinated against yellow fever to enter some countries. NHS fit for travel provides a guide on the recommended vaccinations per country.

Before you go you’ll need to visit your GP, who’ll look at your medical history and see what vaccinations you’ve had and if you need any boosters or additional vaccines. You’ll also need to tell your GP if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or have a condition that affects your immune system.

Customers with more serious pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a serious health condition, the price you pay for travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. However, there are still many providers out there and you should be able to find affordable cover. Whatever happens, don’t be tempted to lie to an insurance provider, because if you do and then need to make a claim, it could be rejected.

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MoneyHelper has launched a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone if you have more serious medical conditions. Find more information at MoneyHelper or by calling them on 0800 138 7777.

What Covid-19 vaccinations do I need for travel?

Covid-19 vaccination and testing requirements for entering countries depend on each country’s rules, which can change at short notice. There are also variations in what different countries mean by ‘fully vaccinated’. Because of this, it’s essential you check the entry requirements for each country you want to visit or travel through before you book your trip. Check entry requirements at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).

Will I need Covid-19 vaccinations to transit through different countries?

As well as your final destination, you should check the entry requirements for every country you plan to travel through. Even if you plan on taking a connecting flight, changing train or simply driving through a destination, it’s important that you comply with local rules.

Requirements will vary according to the destination and rules may be more relaxed when transiting rather than staying somewhere overnight.

The best place to find information on entry and transit requirements is the FCDO foreign travel advice page.

If you don’t meet the entry requirements for your destination, you could be refused entry and/or ordered to pay a fine.

What proof of vaccinations can I provide?

For proof of covid vaccinations you can download an NHS Covid Pass. The digital document is available to anyone aged 16 or over and lists the vaccinations you’ve received in reverse order, including any boosters. It may take up to five days for vaccines to show in your NHS Covid Pass.

You can choose to print off the NHS Covid Pass or request an NHS Covid Pass letter. This can be done through the NHS website or by calling 119, but expect to wait five working days for the letter to arrive by post.

The NHS Covid Pass also shows if you’re unable to be vaccinated against Covid-19 for medical reasons.

For proof of vaccinations against other diseases, you may need to ask for an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP). You can ask for the certificate from your travel clinic or the GP surgery where you received the vaccination.

Do I need to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test to travel?

Many countries ask for proof of a negative PCR test to pass their borders but this rule will vary depending on where you travel to. Because of the constantly changing nature of the pandemic, advice is likely to change on a frequent basis, so check foreign travel advice for your destination before you arrange travel.

Will I need to isolate when I arrive at my destination?

This depends on where you travel to. If you’re not sure whether to isolate when you arrive at your destination, you’ll need to check the gov.uk website for the latest entry requirements.

Will I need to isolate when I return to the UK?

This depends what country you’re arriving from and whether you’re considered to have been fully vaccinated.

Check government advice for up to date information.

See the rules for Northern Ireland

See the rules for Scotland

See the rules for Wales

When do I need to get my vaccinations?

To get advice on vaccinations, speak to your doctor as early as possible – at the very minimum eight weeks before you travel. This is because some vaccinations may require more than one course spread over a period of time to allow your body to develop immunity. You’ll also want to make sure you can get an appointment booked in, particularly during the peak holiday season.

Where will I go to get my vaccinations? 

If your GP can’t carry out the vaccinations, they may refer you to a travel clinic that can. Not all GP practices are signed up to provide free NHS vaccinations so you’ll need to check with your surgery.

If you need vaccinations not provided on the NHS, you can go to a private travel vaccination clinic or a pharmacy offering travel healthcare services.

For example, yellow fever vaccines are only available from designated centres.

Which vaccinations are free under the NHS?

The NHS offers free vaccinations for some diseases. This is to reduce the likelihood of people returning to the UK with the disease and spreading the infection. These vaccinations are free on the NHS:

  • Typhoid
  • Hepatitis A
  • Cholera
  • Polio (given as a combined diphtheria/tetanus/polio vaccine)

Your doctor should be able to advise you on which vaccinations are a necessity and those that are lower risk (these are discretionary and shouldn’t impact your travel insurance).

Which vaccines will I have to pay for?

There are some vaccinations that you’ll need to pay for. You can ask your doctor for written information on what vaccines are needed, the cost and dosage. You can get vaccinated at your GP practice, travel clinic or selected pharmacies - wherever is more convenient. If the vaccines aren’t available at your GP’s surgery, you can take this information to the travel clinic or pharmacy that will carry out the vaccinations.
You’ll have to pay for the following vaccinations if your GP recommends you need them:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Meningitis 
  • Rabies
  • Tick-borne encephalitis
  • Tuberculosis (TB)
  • Yellow fever

The cost of these will vary depending on where you get your vaccination, the dosage you need and how long you’ll be away for. You may also be expected to pay for additional medication, like anti-malaria tablets.

Are vaccines covered by my travel insurance?

The cost of your travel vaccinations won’t be covered by your travel insurance. But if you have private health insurance, your plan may cover the cost of vaccines that aren’t covered under the NHS. You’ll need to check this with your health insurance provider before going to the doctor.

What happens if I don’t get vaccinated?

If you don’t get the recommended vaccinations and become ill as a result, you can invalidate your travel insurance policy. It’s important you have all the necessary vaccinations before you travel. Make sure you also take any medication you’ll need while you’re away.

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Frequently asked questions

Where can I get a Covid-19 certificate?

If you live in England, you can get your NHS Covid Pass through the NHS app or online at the NHS Covid Pass service. Alternatively, you can get a letter sent to you in the post.

If you live in Scotland you’ll need the NHS Scotland Covid Status app and if you live in Wales you’ll need the local NHS Covid Pass app. In Northern Ireland you’ll need a domestic Covid vaccination certificate.

How do I get an EU Digital Covid Certificate (EU DCC)?

Like the NHS Covid Pass, the EU DCC is used as proof that a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19. You can get an EU DCC if you were vaccinated in an EU country. It will be free from the country you were vaccinated in.

Where can I get other vaccination certificates?

Some countries might require a certificate as proof of vaccinations before you’re allowed to enter that country – notably yellow fever. You’ll be able to get this from the registered vaccination centre that gave you your vaccines.

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